Pinedale Nordic Ski Basics
by Bob Barrett, Pinedale Ski Education Foundation
January 8, 2008
Each week during the winter, the Pinedale Ski Education Foundation is posting a Nordic Ski Grooming Report. Some of the terms used in our reports - Nordic, cross country, skating, classic, ski touring, diagonal, set track - may seem a little confusing to someone who is just looking for advice on where to go to put on a pair of skis for some exercise. We offer this short primer on ski terminology and on the role of the Foundation:
Nordic skiing is a winter sport that includes all types of free-heel skiing; that is, where the heel of the boot is not fixed to the ski. Cross country is often used synonymously with Nordic but, more precisely, the Nordic sport family also includes ski jumping, telemark skiing and biathlon. Yes, we could call it the “cross country” ski grooming report but, as with other similar ski groups, we like the heritage of the word “Nordic” better. Nordic, meaning “northern”, refers to the Scandinavian origin of the sport that goes back thousands of years as the free-heeled ancestor of all ski sports since both alpine skiing and snowboarding were only recently derived from Nordic skiing.
Our reports refer to classic skiing, skating and ski touring. Cross country skiing is divided into two styles or disciplines: classic and skating. Classic skiing (also called Traditional or Diagonal) involves a straight ahead kick-and-glide motion generally done in a ski track set by a grooming machine. Skate skiing (also called Freestyle) involves a V-style glide and edge motion much like ice skating. Skating requires either a firm, groomed snow surface or a solid snowpack found at certain times in the spring. Ski Touring is cross country skiing using the classic style but without the need for either a set track or a firm surface. Touring skis, unlike either classic or skate skis, are often metal edged with waxless “fish scale” bases and ski touring can be done on just about any snow conditions.
The mission of the Pinedale Ski Education Foundation is to promote recreational and competitive Nordic skiing in the Pinedale area. The organization has been around for decades though its focus has varied over the years. Today, our main task is the development and maintenance of 17 miles of groomed ski trails for public use located along Skyline Drive and at the southern end of Fremont Lake. Meeting this responsibility is made possible through generous funding provided by the Sublette County Recreation Board. We use a snowmobile with a drag groomer when the snow cover is thin and a PistenBully 100 grooming vehicle when the snow becomes deeper. The PistenBully has hydraulic attachments to compact a 12-foot wide “road” for skate skiers and press two grooves in the snow (called a classic or diagonal track) for classic skiers. It also has a tiller which breaks up ice and hard packed snow to leave a smooth skiing surface. All of our grooming equipment is housed at the new Nordic Building near the Halfmoon Overlook.
The Nordic Ski Grooming Report gives an update each week on the conditions of the groomed trail system for classic skiing and skating as well as some suggestions for ski touring on ungroomed trails. Skiers should refer to our map, “Pinedale Area Nordic Ski Trails”, available at some of the trailheads as well as the Pinedale Ranger Station, Chamber of Commerce and White Pine Ski Resort.